The road leading to his appointment at the helm of the Yellow Jackets program has been a long one for Willis, who has held positions such as offensive line coach and most recently defensive coordinator, since his return to his alma mater in 2000.
But for the 1993 Corner graduate, the opportunity to lead the team he has proudly served and the excitement he feels about the future of his team makes the long journey extremely rewarding.
“I’m excited, but nervous at the same time,” Willis said. “I see a lot of people in the community who ask me if there are certain things that I’m going to do different — I always tell them that I’m not going to look on what we’ve done in the past or what we plan on doing in the future. What I’m concentrating on is not what Zac Willis is going to do — it’s what we’re going to do as a football staff. What we all want is for these kids to look back on their four years at Corner and say, ‘I would do anything to go back and play high school sports again.’ We’ve got a great group of assistants on staff here and we’re all fired up about the opportunity we have here.”
Willis said one of the most notable changes at Corner beyond the new school and the state-of-the-art athletic facilities is the positive atmosphere that is surrounding his players. Coming off a 6-5 finish and the team’s first playoff appearance in five years, the 2012 Yellow Jackets squad seems eager to show that they have their eyes set on even higher goals.
“There is a great revival of school spirit here at Corner that I don’t think has been present in a very long time,” Willis said.
“There’s a different attitude you experience when you are around our players — to have 75 of them out for spring practice is unheard of and is symbolic of that attitude. I think much of it has started with our middle school program, where our coaches there have done a tremendous job in instilling a good work ethic and getting the kids in the weight room regularly. When they arrive here, the transition is not difficult — they come in as freshmen already well-conditioned and ready to begin learning — many of them move up to the varsity level because of their early development. Our freshmen class who are coming in is a great example of it. They’re one of the most exciting groups to be around and we have that excitement in our older players too. It’s certainly not anything my staff or I have done. These kids know they hold the future of the program in their hands and they’re proud of that.”
Corner opens the football season at Munford on Friday, Aug. 31.